John Stossel, Give Me a Break

stossel-givemeabreakWhat John Stossel lacks in presentation in his Give Me a Break is an over-arching theme. Most of the book explores the various government foul-ups that Stossel has covered in his career as a reporter. But when he takes a turn into harmful lawsuits, he seems to go off course. He isn’t really: the unstated theme of the book is reason and the lack thereof in media, government and society. It’s just that Stossel never picks up this ball and runs with it. Perhaps wisely. Had Stossel battered a pro-reason theme into his readers’ heads, this might have turned into a polemic. I might have liked that; the casual reader probably would not.

As it is, this is almost the sort of book you could lend to one of your leftist “government should solve all our problems” pals just to show him how stupid bureaucracy is. Almost. The only thing that damages Stossel’s credibility is that lengthy sub-title: “How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media.”

Despite Dan Rather’s recent screw-ups, the “liberal media” bashing has become droll. The only people you’re going to sell with this line are hard-core conservatives and frankly, that’s just not the audience that needs to read this material. Sure, they could do with Stossel’s firm but friendly stance against government meddling right or left, but Stossel’s approachable tone and common sense reporting makes this an otherwise ideal book for your favorite statist.

But this is mostly a marketing critique. Stossel’s book is an easy, enjoyable read with plenty of laughs and forehead-slapping I-can’t-believe-the-government-paid-for-that moments.